VB schools suggested returning some students to the classroom this month. Officials say it won’t happen so soon

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Just two weeks ago, Virginia Beach school officials said they might try to bring some students back for in-person learning starting later this month.

In a reopening update Wednesday night during a school board meeting, officials said it’s likely going to take an extra couple weeks to get things in order and ready to go for in-person learning.

That means some students could return to the classroom around Oct. 6, according to Chief Schools Officer Dr. Donald Robertson.

Robertson said his staff is working on filling vacancies at schools and schedule modifications for students once in-person learning begins. However, he said this is difficult to achieve by Sept. 22, a date that was suggested Aug. 26 for students in pre-K, elementary, and grades 6 and 9 to return.

“To do it right, we need a couple more weeks,” Robertson said.

Robertson gave this update as part of the district’s plans for transportation and reopening campuses. School officials said students who use the bus will have assigned seats and will be required to wear a mask. A mask will be provided if a student needs one.

High-touch areas on campus will be sanitized every two hours once students are back. Plexiglas barriers and a cashless system will be in place for meals.

Health statistics on the coronavirus play significantly into the school division’s reopening plan.

The latest seven-day average of percent-positivity for COVID cases in Virginia’s eastern region is down to 7.8 percent. The rate was 8.4 percent at the last board meeting two weeks ago.

The reopening plan wasn’t the only thing school board leaders discussed.

When the regular meeting started following the presentation of the reopening plan, proceedings stalled as members discussed whether board member Laura Hughes should leave the meeting because she wasn’t wearing a mask.

Hughes said she is medically exempt, but left the meeting after the board voted 8-3 on a motion that stated people participating in the board meeting must wear mask unless they have accommodation for medical reasons.

WAVY’s Geena Arevalo reports Hughes apparently has not filed necessary documentation for that exemption.

After Hughes left the meeting, the board moved on to its proposed Educational Equity Policy, which was under consideration for a vote Wednesday night.

The policy reflects the district’s commitment to equity and inclusion.

Close to 60 people signed up to speak on the policy.

The policy would mandate training for school board members and staff about implicit bias and how it produces inequitable practices and outcomes, cultural awareness, and culturally responsive teaching. The policy also supports a culturally responsive curriculum for students.

Board member Victoria Manning has spoken out against the policy, saying the equity council who drafted the policy had little to no representation from the Latino, Filipino, or Native American community. She also voiced concerns over use of what she called “biased training.”

Stay with WAVY.com for updates. WAVY’s Geena Arevalo will have the latest on FOX 43 at 10 p.m. and WAVY News 10 at 11 p.m.

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